Svarttjern - Towards the Ultimate
Agonia Records
Black Metal
9 songs (41:15)
Release year: 2011
Official Facebook, Agonia Records
Reviewed by Charles
I found Svarttjern’s last album to be competent but nothing remarkable; melodically-inclined Norse black metal in the vein of Taake or Ragnarok, but perhaps without the artistry of the first or the tunes of the latter. First impressions of Towards the Ultimate are that it’s a step forward- largely similar but maybe with a few more hooks, and songwriting which is both more varied and more aggressive. This kind of ultra-orthodox black metal hasn’t had an especially big year in 2011; my personal favourites have probably been Aosoth’s III or Svartsyn’s Wrath Upon the Earth, both of which also eschewed this particular style of mainline Norsk blasting. But Svarttjern are worth noting for those with that particular itch to scratch; honourable footsoldiers in black metal’s perpetual war against all that is good.

In fact, there are hints here of some subtly integrated slower, grooving ideas, in some way comparable to labelmates Thrall, but these tend to form the ying to a blazingly fast yang. Superior Growth for an example, seesaws between a ferocious, Mardukian war-rattle and a down-tempo stomp. It works highly effectively as a piece of violent musical manipulation, inducing a moderate headbang which accelerates within the blink of an eye to neck-snapping speed. Something very similar could be said for I Am the Path Part II, which has a gargantuanly knucklheaded opening riff, given sinister highlights by the wormy lead lines that dangle sinuously from it. When the kick to up-tempo comes, it is horrifyingly vicious- a venomously exhilarating moment.

So, there is much to enjoy on Towards the Ultimate. Unmasked Violation of Life has a crashing, contorted quality to it, and closer For What Blooms Without Lust strides through hooky mid-tempo riffing which, like all their other songs, accelerates as it develops towards a snarling climax of blastbeats. This, then, convinces as a slab of traditionalist black metal, with some sense of dynamics and a top gear of biting power.

Killing Songs :
I Am the Path Part II, Unmasked Violation of Life
Charles quoted 75 / 100
Alex quoted 71 / 100
Other albums by Svarttjern that we have reviewed:
Svarttjern - Shame Is Just a Word reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Svarttjern - Misanthropic Path of Madness reviewed by Charles and quoted 65 / 100
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